The Whale-Influenced Pursuit of Net Zero Emissions

As individuals, companies, and countries race towards a greener, more sustainable future, some scientists are finding the solutions to some of our carbon emission concerns lie in the most obvious of places; underneath the water’s surface, where billions of life forms have traveled throughout time without the need for petroleum.


Scientists from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom are currently developing what is called ‘wave devouring propulsion technology’ in the hopes of reducing ship emissions caused by generating thrust to accelerate and maintain speed over open water. The technology, which is described as a flapping foil system installed underneath a ship’s hull, is inspired by the tail fin of a whale, which generates thrust by harnessing the kinetic energy of waves.


Once an engine is going, the system would reduce the effort needed to push an object forward, thus reducing the amount of fuel consumed for each ship’s journey from departure to destination. Though it still remains to be seen how radically it could reduce a single ship’s emissions, the obvious benefits of wave devouring propulsion systems could provide a window to the future of ship engines across the world, in a variety of different aquatic disciplines.


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